The sterling efforts of community-minded volunteers in Broughshane has helped the Co Antrim village to the title of Channel 4’s Village of the Year.
The ‘garden village’ of Ulster came out on top in the final of the programme presented by Penelope Keith which was broadcast on Saturday evening.
The series saw the former Good Life actress tour the UK in search for the best villages in terms of beauty, community spirit, infrastructure and quality of life.
On Saturday’s programme the four regional winners battled it out in the grand final, with Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire, Beer in Devon and Bamburgh in Northumberland coming runner-up to Broughshane.
The £10,000 prize is to spend on a community project – in Broughshane’s case, promoting tourism.
Lexie Scott, chairman of Broughshane’s community association, said the village was delighted by its victory.
He said it was “a very fitting tribute to the effort so many volunteers put into the life of the village”.
Mr Scott, who had been sworn to secrecy about winning the show, said: “Broughshane is no stranger to awards for our floral displays but this was a completely different challenge for us.
“The appearance of the village played a significant role, nonetheless a big element of this programme was the commitment of the people in this village to village life.
“We saw that coming to the fore when we had our celebration of volunteering as part of the show and almost 1,000 people took part in a cavalcade.
“Unfortunately it turned out to be the wettest day of the year, but as one of the judges commented, ‘it certainly wasn’t raining on our parade’. That sums up an awful lot what the folk of Broughshane are like.
“It’s the people who put the ‘extra’ in Broughshane to make the ordinary things extraordinary.”
One feature of the village of Broughshane that caught the eye of the programme’s judges was the Raceview Mill project.
In 2013 Raceview was scheduled for demolition. It was purchased by local artist and photographer Roy McKeown and – with the help of his daughter Dawn – they restored the old mill buildings, converting them into a hub for small local businesses and start ups.
Mr McKeown said: “It has been a labour of love and it’s rewarding to see it now – we have come through against all odds. Broughshane is a fantastic village and now Raceview Mill is being hailed as an example of what is possible for historic old buildings.”